The Perrantide Approaches

Cornwall is a county where its people are renowned for their great sense of pride, a strong cultural identity that can be seen in towns and villages across the county. But as St Piran's Day approaches once again, there seems to be a distinct lack of celebrations going on across Cornwall during the week leading up to the 5th of March. Of course there are the usual events occurring, the St Piran Play in Perranporth and the procession in Truro, but these events are only the tip of the festivities that could be much more widespread.

During recent years Cornwall's popularity has increased to the extent where the counties' image has become big business, and the iconic flag of St Piran is a strong brand image for Cornwall. It would be in the interest of the public sector to see that there is great marketability behind the celebration of St Piran, and that it would not only encourage spending from within the existing population of Cornwall, but it would also encourage tourists to visit the county during the shoulder season month of March. The need within the tourism industry to diversify their market in order to make promote an all year round industry would surely make St Piran's Day an obvious starting point due to its ready to sell image.

In Falmouth this year there is very little happening during the 'Perrantide' – the week leading up to St Piran's Day – yet Falmouth is one of the main economic areas in southern Cornwall. Keven, who has been running the Cornish Store on Falmouth's high street for nearly three years believes that St Pirans Day, and the sense of being Cornish is often something that is “celebrated more away from Cornwall”. Essentially this is how the large celebration of St Patrick's Day would have started, with the Irish contingent across the world spreading the remembrance of their patron saint, to such an extent that the English now celebrate this more than their own patron saint.

“It's not celebrated enough” said Keven, “the council need to help promote it, because it it's organised people will attend”. There is the constant problem within Cornwall of the 'dreckly attitude' that means that locals will usually wait for someone else to take the reins, and if that doesn't happen then they don't do anything to themselves to change the situation. However, like Keven said, if it is organised then the Cornish can prove as dedicated and motivated as anyone in the country when it comes to organising some top class festivities.

Both the private, and public sectors need to start realising just how much a date such as St Piran's Day can help promote their business and the region in general. Cornwall has a ready made, marketable brand that is just waiting to be used to its full potential and until then St Piran's Day will only be celebrated by the dedicated few, as opposed to the willing masses.


Diabolus in Musica

The rise of the MP3 player has meant that song playlists have become part of our everyday life, with vast selections of music available right at our fingertips. One of the beautiful things about music is its ability to evoke strong emotions within the listener, it can trigger old memories, it can rouse the passion inside, and it can cover a heart with clouds. Its universal appeal means that everyone will find themselves influenced and affected by a song at some point in their life. But when you have the ability to change lives, and indeed the world, how much can music reveal about the lives and actions of some of the world's most influential figures?

Recognised in a BBC poll to be the greatest-ever Britain, Winston Churchill galvanised a country when it was needed most. His steely resolve in the face of the overwhelming pressure faced from the opposing forces in the Second World War made him a figure of inspiration to the citizens of Briton. Churchill's strength and patriotism is clearly visible in the song 'Battle Hymn of The Republic', a song played at his funeral, and one that supposedly brought a tear to Churchill's eye whenever he heard it. A fervently patriotic song, it was have had a strong resonance with Churchill during the war, and with lyrics such as “let us die to make men free” there can be little doubt that this song would have inspired Churchill in times of trouble.
On the other side of the English Channel, Hitler was well known to be a fan of the composer Robert Wagner, not just his music, but also his anti-semitic writings that the Nazi Party used in their own propaganda. Many of Wagner's opera extensively use the tritone, a musical interval that spans three whole tones. In medieval times, this musical characteristic was called the Devil's Interval, because of the dissonance created by this sound. It creates dark and atmospheric music, the kind of music that typifies the way that Hitler slowly, but inexorably brought most of Europe under his power. While it is foolish to say that Hitler only liked Wagner because of the supposed 'evil' connotations behind his music, it is not unreasonable to say that Hitler enjoyed Wagner so much that he let his music and beliefs become an essential part of the Nazi movement.

Richard Nixon was to be one of the first contemporary leaders who openly embraced popular music and showed an interest in playing music himself; Nixon was a proficient pianist, even appearing on the Jack Parr Tonight Show. Nixon appeared to have a keen desire to be seen as a President who was looked at with the same admiration as musicians, and he used his musical abilities to try and raise his public profile. Yet these acts only served to create a caricature of the President, and it can be clear to say that his musical ambition and interest only hindered his image, and had a detrimental effect on his political career.

The current President, George Bush, is known to listen to his iPod whilst out cycling on his ranch in Texas. His own musical tastes reveal a safe, middle of road selection, with no black artists, no genre less than 25 years old, and no world music. Bush has a well documented past of misplaced words and confused sentences, and his unchallenging, simple music tastes reflect the thought process of the man himself. His cycling partner claims it's music to “get over the next hill", and sometimes when watching Bush in action, it seems that this is all he is ever trying to do.

Although music can often have an influence on the character of the listener, it should also be recognised that maybe the listener has chosen that type of music because they see their own personality within that music. Music will always have a place in society, affecting the man on the street, to the man in the Oval Office, and the world is all the more interesting for it. But every now and then it can be interesting to speculate on whether Hitler might have turned out differently if he'd listened more to Debussy as opposed to Wagner.


Where's my plunger?

Writer's block. It's something that most writer's complain of at some point in their life. I think this can be quite hard to explain to some people, I've only found it a problem when I have to be creative with my writing, as opposed to writing something like an essay. Perhaps though, 'block' is the wrong word to use, maybe 'struggle' or probably more likely 'procrastination'. No one can procrastinate quite like a writer.

Whenever I seem to be suffering from the supposed "writer's block", I always notice how effective I can be at actually avoiding writing all altogether. I'll read newspapers, check my email for the fifteenth time, look on YouTube, then check my email again. I'm beginning to get worryingly good at it. In fact, this blog entry is just another attempt to avoid my work, but the problem is is that I just can't ignore my work, it has to be done.

I was actually hoping in some small way that maybe by writing this now it might free up my mind a bit and get the juices flowing again as it were. I think the main cure is to just keep attacking the page, no matter what. I have been literally forcing myself to keep writing, and chastising myself when I my focus veers from my work. It's slowly working, after all, writing isn't supposed to be easy, if it was then anyone could write a novel.

Perhaps it's the discipline that I lack, the ability to remain undistracted for longer than two minutes is something that I wish I had. I do think that the struggle can be linked to a lack of faith in one's work, the low self-esteem. All this adds up and weighs on the mind in the form of depression and anxiety, only serving to stifle further writing even more. Quite often I hit a standstill purely because I think everything I write is worthless, but then I try to make myself carry on with the reasoning that, yes it may be worthless, but get it on paper and then maybe you can turn it into something worthwhile.

It's like Phillip Pullman says, the ideas are easy "it's writing the book. That's the difficult thing, the thing that takes time and energy and the discipline."


Bootiful Earrings

When I was young I seemed to lack the simple ability to look after my pets. My first set of goldfish died within two days, and my rabbit only lasted around six months – instead of telling me that he had died, my Dad said that he had run away,causing me to have nightmares for years that Champ would have been attacked by a pack of hungry rats. The memory of these animals still remains with me, but they were never around long enough for me to form any lasting attachment that makes me want to preserve their memory in any solid shape or form.

Yet a process that was originally pioneered in America seems to be attracting some interest from bereaved pet owners in the UK. Recently a Westcountry woman, Sue Rogers, had the remains of her two dogs, and her cat made into blue-tinted diamond. Costing over £3,000 it is certainly not a cheap process, but it does mean that she has a unique diamond to remind her of her lost pets.

I was first alerted to this technique on an advert for a well known vodka company, a story of how even an ugly man can be turned into a “girl's best friend” if he has his remains turned into a diamond. At the time I did not even realise that this was a real process, but companies such as LifeGem offer this exact service to the general public. However, watching the advert makes me think that maybe the money would have been better spent buying a bottle of vodka and having a good wake instead.

The main interesting aspect of this process is the possibility that any animal that has been cremated, as long as it has a skeleton or hair, can be turned into a diamond. I immediately thought of the recent poultry culls that have happened in Suffolk, and the 160,000 birds that were gassed. What should be done with the carcases? Couldn't the Government invest in a diamond producing plant, and then they could recycle the cremated birds and have an exportable resource in return. They could then use this money to compensate the farmers, who I'm sure would be very grateful for the money (although maybe they would rather have the diamonds instead).

On an international scale the Government could even claim that they also helping to combat the illegal trade of diamonds that causes so much blood shed in Africa. By creating our own diamonds, companies can obtain the stones from legitimately controlled sources, thereby reducing the amount of illegally traded diamonds within the industry.

Sue Rogers and her diamond cat and dogs, show just what can be possible by utilising cutting edge technology and 200g of animal ash. If the Government wants to make the best of a bad situation then maybe looking at carbon processing will provide with an answer as to how to turn a health hazard into something truly “bootiful”.